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Make Your Soup

Updated on December 1, 2008

Aaah! Soup - that basic sustaining pot of warming nourishment!

The word 'soup' has evolved from the Germanic 'sop', originally a piece of bread, over which the pottage or broth was poured. You can easily see that our words 'sup' and 'supper' are related to this once widespread custom of an evening meal of a sop moistened with some type of liquid. In France, 'la soupe' still refers to the piece of bread over which 'le potage' is served. A slice of bread is still soup's best companion, and together they make a nourishing and warming meal. There is nothing like a bowl of hot soup, with its aromatic steam making the mouth water with anticipation.

Italian Bread Soup

  • 10 slices of stale bread, preferable homemade
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 8 cups chicken or beef broth, heated
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

Place the bread on a baking sheet, and bake it at 350F until thoroughly dried. Rub the slices with the cut sides of the garlic cloves.

Place the bread in a tureen, and pour the hot broth over, a little at a time, so it is absorbed by the bread. Put the tureen in a 425F oven, and let the surface of the soup brown for 12 - 15 minutes. Sprinkle the parsley over the soup before serving.

Vary by putting a thin slice of Italian cheese on top of each layer of bread.


Puree of Green Peas

Soup and Bread - the Dynamic Duo
Soup and Bread - the Dynamic Duo

What is Soup?

Today, with the plethora of canned, dried, and packaged soups available, many people have forgotten how delicious the real thing is. And how easy. Anyone who can cut up vegetables can make a nutritious soup, and in little more time than it takes to open a can and heat the contents. Indeed many of the most delicious soups are created with just vegetables and broth. Served with a delicious chunk of crusty bread and a little herbed butter, it's a meal to restore and satisfy you.

Soups are an integral part of every cuisine worldwide, and vary from simple broths to creamy purees, to chunky compound soups or chowders that can almost be called stews. They can be eaten any time - the Japanese begin their day with a fish broth and rice. Left over soup was traditionally eaten by French children for breakfast in the early years of the last century. Many people begin their evening meals with a small bowl of soup. You can find soup recipes from most every culture - Thai fish soups, French onion soup, hot pots from Jamaica, and bean soups from the Mediterranean are just a few examples.


How to Make a Vegetable Beef Soup

The Basic Broth

To make the best soups, always start with a homemade broth or stock. This can be based on meat, vegetables, or fish. A broth is simply a clear and savory liquid, made from vegetables, herbs or meat simmered in water, and then strained out when all the flavor has been extracted. Poultry, beef, or game  can be used as the meat base. A vegetable stock is made from just vegetables and herbs, simmered and strained. A fish stock is made by simmering fish bones, heads, and trimmings with some vegetables. Each of these clear stocks or broths can be served alone, or used as the base for a more complete meal-time soup.

  When making a broth, less is more. The selected ingredients should be put into a stock pot, covered with water, and left to simmer undisturbed. Pre-cooking of vegetables is not necessary. To get a clear broth, the liquid is strained through several layers of cheesecloth.  Salt and pepper are never added until the end of the process, and then added to taste. If you add salt at the beginning to a full pot, you may find the reduced stock much too salty; and pepper's taste becomes quite harsh if added before the end.  

Hot, Tasty Chicken Broth

Potato and Leek Soup

A very simple way to make this delicious soup.

  • 3 or 4 potatoes, medium size, quartered and finely sliced
  • 4 or 5 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced, tough green parts removed
  • 2 quarts boiling water, salted
  • 3 tbsp butter

Add the vegetables to the boiling water, and cook at a light boil until the potatoes soften and mash easily. Remove from the heat, add the butter and serve.

How to Prepare Leeks

Simple broths can be enlivened with garnishes - matchstick vegetables, a bit of rice, a sprinkling of chopped boiled egg and parsley, or perhaps egg noodles. More complex soups are often made with a broth base, and vegetable chunks or some type of meat is added. These can be pureed with a hand blender (most convenient), so that the result has a thick creamy consistency. Cream soups are simply purees with cream added at the end of the cooking process. A veloute (French for velvet) is made with a broth thickened with flour, egg yolks and cream.   


Full Meal Soups

Chowders, minestrones, and Scotch broth are types of compound broths that can make a full meal by themselves. With these soups, solid ingredients are cut up, added, and served with the liquid. They are very full-bodied, almost like a stew, and by themselves can make a nourishing and complete meal. It is with these types of soups that an enterprising cook can create infinite variations. Some examples are Russian borscht, Chinese hot and sour soup, Italian minestrone or pasta e fagioli, and New England clam chowder.  


Tomato Basil Soup


  • 3 lbs beef (meat and bones)
  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 or 3 carrots
  • 1 turnip
  • 1 parsnip
  • 5 leeks
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 onion
  • thyme, bay leaf.
  • Thin slices of dry crusty rolls

Parboil the beef for 5 minutes. Remove the meat and bones, discard the water and clean the pot. Put the meat and bones back in, and add the cooking water and salt, and slowly bring to a boil, skimming off the scum that forms. Simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours, half covered.

Add the vegetables, cut into pieces, and cook about 2 1/2 hours longer, til the meat is tender. Skim off the fat, and correct the seasoning. Remove the meat, and slice it for serving. Remove the vegetables, and strain the stock. Keep as much stock as wanted for serving, and refrigerate the rest.

Meat and vegetables and stock can be served in one bowl, or the soup can be eaten separately, followed by the sliced meat and vegetables.

Always, the thin slices of dry crusty rolls are eaten in the soup.


A Full Meal Soup

Pasta Sausage and Vegetable Soup
Pasta Sausage and Vegetable Soup

Simple Delicious Carrot Soup

  • 2 lb. carrots, chopped
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp each, oregano, thyme and savory
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • chopped parsley and yoghurt.

Boil the carrots in the water until softened. Fry the onions with 1 tsp salt, until soft. Add the garlic and herbs. Add this mixture to the carrots and water.

Puree with a hand blender, and flavour with lemon juice. Sprinkle each serving with fresh chopped parsley and a dash of yoghurt.  

Soup making can be as simple or as creative as you choose. Use only the freshest ingredients - organic vegetables, pure water, herbs and meats, and you'll have a delicious, nourishing, easily digested bowl of steaming goodness, often quick to prepare and easy on the budget.  



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